Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. They fall under two categories - viral and bacterial. While viral STIs are caused by viruses, the latter is caused by bacteria[1].

Let’s discover more about the difference between viral STIs and bacterial STIs and find out how you can test for an STI from home.



What’s The Difference Between Viral STIs And Bacterial STIs?


While viral STIs are caused by viruses, bacterial STIs are caused by bacteria - but, what’s the difference?

What are viruses?

Viral STIs are sexually transmitted diseases which are caused by a virus. A virus is a small infectious organism that can infect all types of life forms - once they successfully find a living host, they stay alive through replicating and copying its DNA within the cell [2].

The most common viral STIs include:

  • HIV
  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
  • Hepatitis
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What are bacteria?

Bacterial STIs are sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria. Bacteria are microorganisms that live in the air, soil, water, plants, on animals and on humans - in fact, there are 10 times as many bacteria in the human body than there are human cells [4].

The majority of bacteria are harmless, and in most cases, bacterial infections can be cured quite simply with antibiotics.

The most common bacterial STIs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Mycoplasma
  • Gardnerella
  • Trichomoniasis

What is the main difference between viral STIs and bacterial STIs?

Other than their underlying cause, viral STIs and bacterial STIs are different in one other important way - with early detection, viral STIs can only be controlled whereas bacterial STIs can be cured [5].


How do you test for an STI?


The best way to know for sure if you have an STI is to take a test - this can be done with your local doctor or from the comfort of your own home with LetsGetChecked’s at home STI test. That said, it’s important to mention that if you have noticed symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor for a check up.

You should consider getting tested if:

  • You’ve become sexually active
  • You’ve had unprotected sex
  • You’re experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You’re entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You’ve received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STDs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)


References

  1. World Health Organization. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Online: Who.int, 2019

  2. Microbiology Society. Are viruses alive? Online: Microbiologysociety.org, 2016

  3. Mayo Clinic. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019

  4. Microbiology Society. Bacteria. Online: Microbiologysociety.org

  5. World Health Organization. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Online: Who.int, 2019